More parents and pupils in Leeds miss out on their first choice secondary school

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MORE THAN a thousand families have discovered their child has missed out on place at their first choice of secondary school in Leeds this year.

National Offer Day also has also seen the level of pupils in the city not being allocated any of their preferred schools double compared with last year.

Education chiefs in the city said the latest figures showed the need for councils to have the power to open up its own schools to meet demand.

Leeds City Council placed almost 8,000 pupils in secondary schools from this September following a large increase in applications.

According to Department for Education and council figures the numbers missing out on their first choice has risen from 11.6 per cent last year to 17 per cent.

This means around 1,300 pupils did not get into their first choice this year while 6,603 were successful.

The level of pupils who were not allocated a place at any of their preferred school has risen from 1.9 per cent in 2014/15 to 4.5 per cent - around 350 pupils.

Leeds City Council said it was now working on a series of school expansions to cope with demand for places after the latest school application figures showed a big increase.

The authority has had to allocate 421 more places to 11-year-old secondary school this September and the level getting into their first choice has fallen.

Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services said the city would face increased in demand in future years and said the figures showed the need for local councils to be able to open up schools to meet demand. At present education authorities can only apply to the Government run competitions to open up academies but cannot open new schools themselves.

The Labour councillor said: “I am not trying to make a political point here. What I am saying is in line with local government councillors of all parties. Councils need to be able to open up schools ourselves where we see the demand.”

She said this point had also been made by David Simmonds, the chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s board, who was a Conservative councillor.

Paul Brennan, the council’s deputy director of children’s services said Leeds City Council had allocated 120 more children in total to their first choice school than last year.

He added: “However a significant rise in cohort numbers which has seen 421 more year seven places allocated compared to 2014, means that the overall percentage has slightly reduced.

“Given that legislative changes have meant that the local authority is no longer allowed to open new schools, we are undertaking a programme of school expansions to ensure that there continues to be sufficient school places available across the city.”

He also said the admissions team was also working closely with schools and families to find alternative places for those children who did not get any of their preferences or who refuse their allocated place.

Parents now have until March 13 to accept or refuse the offers and request a waiting list place.

The secondary admissions figures for Leeds in September 2015/16:

6603 children were given their first preference

745 children were given their second preference

192 children were given their third preference

50 children were given their fourth preference

15 children were given their fifth preference